Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has given assurances that the US$2 Billion Mt. Hartman project, will go-ahead as planned in spite of the negative perceptions about the character of Chinese investor, Charles Liu, who is a significant player in the development.
“That project is ongoing. The investor had a civil problem (and) although some people were making it look as if it was a criminal act, it is now settled from all indications,” Dr. Mitchell told a group of students last week Thursday, in response to a question posed to him during a special visit to the T. A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) in Tanteen.
The USD$2 billion project dubbed the ‘Grenada Resort Complex Project,’ proposes the development of the Mt. Hartman peninsula and Hog Island.
The project was officially launched in Beijing, China in May 2015, with former Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen in attendance.
A Chinese company called United Demai Group, spearheaded by Liu who holds the position of Grenada’s Commercial attaché at its Beijing embassy, is developing the project.
The facility will include high-end resorts, a wellness centre and other recreational and entertainment features.
Engaging the students at the TAMCC Student Center building, Prime Minster Mitchell did not go into exact detail about where the project is at this point in time.
However, the Grenadian leader gave assurances that this mega-tourism investment opportunity is not just for the erection of hotels, but is broad-based and will create employment opportunities in the country.
“It is hotels plus, golf course (and) some serious agricultural components,” Dr. Mitchell said, noting, “the lands at Mt. Hartman are … rich agricultural lands.”
Over the past year, a dark cloud of suspicion looms over the project with the United States Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) laying fraud charges against Liu, who is accused of misusing approximately two-thirds of monies raised from investors for the purpose of building and operating a proton cancer treatment center in California.
US District Court documents showed that Liu and his wife, Lisa Wang raised USD24.7M in capital contributions and collected approximately USD2.2M in administrative fees (and that) despite this large capital raised, little progress was made on the cancer treatment centre.
The document also states that “after receiving investor funds Mr. Liu disbursed “USD6, 714, 508 (into his personal bank) account, 1, 583, 000 to Mrs. Wang, USD7, 722, 000 to Overseas Chinese (a company in China) USD3, 185, 000 to the United Damei Group and USD$1, 387, 500 to a company called Delsk.”
It was also revealed that “USD118, 605. 11, was also transferred to a bank in Grenada.”
The U.S District Court has since granted a preliminary injunction for Liu to repatriate foreign assets raised from other foreign investors for the Proton treatment centre.
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has consistently called on the Mitchell-led government to undertake a full-fledged investigation into the affairs of Liu and his wife.
Government has maintained that there is no reason to believe that there was a relationship between the alleged fraudulent activities of Liu and his activities in Grenada.
The ‘Grenada Resort Complex Project,’ at Mt Hartman was being promoted as the latest major Chinese tourism project in the Caribbean, following Nassau’s Baha Mar in The Bahamas and the recently-launched Labahia Hotel Resorts and Condominiums project in Antigua and Barbuda.